Where do you find the best wildlife adventures in Nepal?, is it safe to go there with kids? and how do you do multi day trekking or hiking with young kids? We spent a month in Nepal, 1 stop on our round the world trip with our young children and did it all! Get some tips and inspiration for your Nepal adventure with kids here.
We had an idea of what we wanted to do in Nepal before we left Sweden but nothing set in stone and only 3 nights in Kathmandu actually booked. Once we had arrived and adjusted to the hustle and heat of Kathmandu we finalised the rest of our time here.
Summary of our time in Nepal:
Kathmandu 3 nights
Private car to Chitwan 7hrs
Chitwan 4 nights
Private car to Pokhara
Pokhara 4 nights (we extended this part due to tummy bugs)
Poon Hill Trek 5 nights
Pokhara 3 nights
Tourist bus to Kathmandu
Kathmandu 2 nights
All in all we spent 21 days here but could easily havecut our time down our time in Pokhara dan Kathmandu by 4 or maybe 5 days.
Poon hill trek – a child friendly classic Nepal trek
Ghorepani Poon hill trek is one of the short trekking routes in the Annapurna region that can be done in 3-5 days. After some research we decided this would be the best route for us. It is long enough for Paul and me to enjoy, at 3210m, the altitude in not too high for the kids, and if done in 5 days we were hoping the daily treks would be short enough for Ingrid 8, to be able walk all they way.
Over 5 days, this trail takes you through beautiful local villages and rhododendron forests with panoramic views of Nepal’s most famous peaks from Poon Hill– Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Annapurna South. The trail can be congested in high season October – February, but was almost empty when we were there in August, at the end of the monsoon season.
Its a 1hr drive from Pokhara to Nayapul, the starting point of the trek. From there you make a circuit over 5 days from Nayapul to Hille (near Tikhedunga), then Ghorepani and Poon Hill followed by Ghandruk and Landing before finally returning to Nayapul and Pokhara.
Basket case solved – gaffa tape saves the day!
In order for us all to enjoy this trek, the most important thing we had to consider was how to keep Scott happy and motivated to walk as much as possible. Scott is physically strong and usually happy to walk for about an hour or so most days. Unfortunately, just before starting the trek he was really ill for a week with a tummy bug and had to take 2 course of antibiotics to recover. Needless to say, we were a bit were worried about how he would cope in the hills after being so poorly.
Scott full of beans in Nepal
Veryill with a tummy bug
In planning or trip to Nepal, we had already considered getting a porter to help Scott round the trail and with the recent tummy bug illness we decided at the trip could only be done with a porter that could help us carry Scott all the way round the trail.
We booked our team consisting of 1 guide and 2 sherpas, through Funnys travel in Kathmandu. 1 sherpa would carry our big backpack and 1 would carry Scott in a traditional Nepalese basket.
As we arrived in Nayapul, ready to head off it became clear that the typical basket we had agreed that Scott would be carried in did not exist. The guide and sherpas suggested they could carry Scott on their back and shoulders for 5 days, which was not what we had agreed nor would it be safe or comfortable. We watched in disbelief as the team set about constructing a make due carrier basket, which promptly broke.Without a safe carrier construction for Scott we would have to go back to Pokhara and try again in a few days once it had been sorted out to our satisfaction……not ideal.
Its amazing what you can do with a pocket knife and some gaffa tape.Paul finally took charge, bought another basket and made a safe, comfortable and strong carrier with gaffa tape, some rope and a bit of insulation material ….finally 2 hrs later we were ready to go.
Day 1 – Up, up and away
We started our first walk up from Nayapul to Ghorepan on a trail initially made up of an old gravel road. Eventually we were crossing streams, passing rice paddies and teahouses on lingering stony path that slowly took us up higher in the mountains into slightly cooler and more manageable temperatures.
Typical paths on day 1
Beautiful scenery on the Poon hill trail
It was not a difficult walk but the very hot and humid weather made it hard work still. Scotty was in the basket most of the time, snoozing while Ingrid walked every step with a smile on her face. She had been looking forward to this trek for a long time and was happy to finally be on our way.
Finally after 5hrs walking, at Ingrid pace, we were pleasantly surprised to find our accommodation for the night. A large and clean teahouse with comfortable beds in twin rooms with delicious food onoffer.
After a quick dinner and some games with our sherpas we called it a night getting to get some sleep in preparation for the early start and long trek the following day.
Day 2 – Stairway to heaven,4080 steps to be exact
After a good night sleep and and eggs and pancakes for breakfast we set off on 8hrs relentless climbing 4080 steps, 1300m elevation. to Ghorepani. Thankfully it was overcast most of the day and we all felt strong and excited to climbing up ever higher and higher in the mountains into the cooler air and the lingering clouds.
After enjoying a typical vegetable Thali lunch and a couple of tea breaks along the way we finally arrived at our overnight stay in Ghorepani, 500m below the peak of Poon hill. A lovely warming wood burner at the centre of the common space in this teahouse made it a lovely and cosy place to hangout and a good spot to dry damp socks and shoes. We were all exhausted after the 8hr trek and had a very early night.
Tea at the tea house
Day 3 – Above the clouds at the break of dawn
Ingrid and Paul had decided to climb to the Poon hill peak to catch the sun rise over the mighty Annapurnas.
Ingrid getting ready for her 4am start to climb Poon hill
They set off at 4 pm in the dark with puffer jackets and head torches while Scott got some more sleep and rest ahead of the days longish walk. The climb to the top in the dark took about an hour.
After watching the sure rise we all had a breakfast together, chocolate pancakes and eggs.A quick rest and then we set off on a 7 hr walk up and down on winding trails through the clouds forest.
After a tea break and then lunch in a beautiful spot along the river we had to get raincoats and umbrellas out for the last hour walk to our over night stay number 3 at Ghandruk.
Wet leaves and vegetation meant leeches were out and about. There are lots of warnings about leeches on the trails in August in the guide books and on the internet. However, we found the leeches to be few and far between, very small and pretty harmless. Once we found them on us they were easy enough to flick off without causing much pain or discomfort. Scott was actually very excited to find one inside his trousers. Must have got there during a pee break.
The over night stay in Tanipani, was our least favourite.Dirty and smelly toilets in the teahouse and a pretty rough restaurant made us all a bit uneasy. We were too tired from walking to think too much about it and enjoyed clear views on the Annapurnas when we woke up the next day.
Day 4 & 5 all downhill from here
Our first clear view of the snowcapped Annapurna range at the breakfast table at Tanipani gave us the energy we needed to walk the days trek 5 hrs downhill. Trails were wet and slippery after a rainy night but Ingrid did great and Scott walked his longest distance so far despite a big leech bite on his leg. We enjoyed a slow lunch at a beautiful village of Thadipani on the way down.
Beautiful scenery and coours along the
Our last days walk down to Nayapul was our least favourite. Part of the trail was along the main dirt road through some larger villages with a lot more people and even cars along part of the way. Typically this was the day with the best view of the mountains. What a great way to endthis amazing 5 day trek!
Poon Hill – a great trek for mountain lovers with kids
The Ghorepani Poon hill trek is not the most adventurous mountain experience if on your own, but with 2 young kids in tow is a great mix of hard walks on easy trails broken up by tea and lunch breaks along the way. The walk itself is interesting as it follows part of the old Trans-Himalayan Salt Trade Route.
Most of the the trail is made up stone slabs and staircases that head from village to village and some of the time you walk on simple trails and across small streams and through rain forest like foilage.
We quickly slipped into a pleasant rhythm of eating, walking, eating, playing cards, drinking tea and sleeping.
Poon Hill trek can easily be done without a guide just following a good map. Also, in high season there are lots of other trekkers on the trail that are all going the same way. If we had done this trail without the children, we would have done it alone. As this was our first big adventure in he mountains with the kids we felt safer having a guide with us.
Packing is simple, since you don’t need to carry tents, sleeping bags, or food but can enjoy sleeping and eating in one of many lovely teahouses along the way. We packed 1 large backpack with a change of clothes, micro towels, silk liners, games and electronic essentials that the sherpa carried and a smaller day pack with water, snacks and raincoats, which we took turns carrying. We left our big bags at our hotel in Pokhara as we would return tenth same hotel after the trek.
There are plenty of teahouses along the way of Poon Hill trek where you can stop for food and drinks and to stay over night. The overnight teahouses are like simple, clean guesthouses with basic beds and food on offer. Some of the smaller teahouses along the way just offering tea, coffee, drinks and snacks.
August is the end of the monsoon season in Nepal. While on the trail we had rain most nights night and 2 days with half hour long showers. We also had leeches, and some cloudy days. However, if you want enjoy the quiet time in the mountains,walk at your own pace and if a bit of rain down not bother you then end August is a good time to go.
If you like walking in the mountains and want to introduce your children to this fantastic adventure then Nepal & Poon hill is the way to go!
Pokhara is the gateway town a lot of the trekking in Nepal. In a beautiful location right next to the jade coloured Fewa lake and with the snowcapped Anapurna’s in the background, it feels like its the beginning of something magical.
We spent a few days here recovering from tummy bugs and getting organised for our planned trek.
Top 3 Pokhara with kids:
World Peace Pagoda
Take the boat across the lake then climb the path to the top. Enjoy the beauty and serenity of the peace pagoda. The boat across takes 30-45 min. You can pay to be take there or you can row the boat your self. Ingrid rowed our boat across the lake in 1 hr.
Halfway up the trail is a little place where you can buy drinks and have a rest. The walk to the top is easy but up hill and takes about 1 hr.
The German bakery
Everyday in Pokhara we came here to enjoy amazing coffee and muffins. Enjoy the view of the lake and passersby and simply enjoy being here. We took the kids here in the morning as a treat once they had completed their schoolwork.
No matter how inviting the lake might look on one of the hot days here it is not advisable to swim due to pollution. There are a few hotels with swimming pools in and around Pokhara that allow you to use the pool facilities if you pay an fee so this is what we did to keep our cool here. Our preferred pool was situated close to the airport at hotel Jal Mahal right next to an empty, ghost like children amusement park. You have to pay an entrance fee to the park and to the pool but its money well spent.
We were the only people here all day and the kids simply loved it!
The 7 hr road from hell to get here did not bring our spirits down for more than a an afternoon. Where is a good place to rest and recover from this long and uncomfortable journey you might ask. Well, anywhere that can offer a clean bed, air conditioning and a fan.
Too hot to handle
When I booked our accommodation, I got carried away by the idea of a true jungle adventure and booked us into a place called ECO lodge, where we would stay 4 nights in a bamboo hut with outside showers and a fan, no AC! Had it not been for the 35 heat we were enduring during our time in Chitwan in August I think we would all have loved this place. There are little bamboo huts on stilts, beautiful outside showers with the odd frog or lizard to keep you company, nice common space and more. However, in addition to the excruciating heat, Scott and I caught a tummy bug and were really unwell with a high temperature so we had to move to a nearby place with AC for the last night. Worth noting is that in Nepal, electricity comes and goes and in most places, Kathmandu and Pokhara included. The power is usually on at night from 4 am to 6 or 7 pm and sometimes for an hr or so during the day. So in the summer months its always a good idea to book a room with AC & a fan to help you keep your cool.
This place is all about meeting and spotting wild animals and we had some great momoents here doing just that that the kids will always remember.
Swimming with elephants
Every day at 10.30 the elephant keepers here take the elephants to the river for a wash and a swim. A little path next to the River view lodge on the main street will take you there. You can sit on an elephant and get splashed or simply go for a dip in the river and enjoy being in the same space as these beautiful animals.
Thats the part we all liked the most. A few of the local children joined Ingrid and Scott for a splash and for all us us, this was the best moment in Chitwan.
Slowly gliding through the waters in a long wooden canoe, is a pleasure by itself. Ad the excitement of spotting 8 big crocodiles along the way and you and the kids will all enjoy this trip.
We took the slow Ox cart to and from the river which added charm and adventure ti this trip.
Looking for tigers
The best chance to spot wildlife is at dusk and dawn. We booked elephant safari through our hotel for the earliest available slot at 7am, but by the time we got on the elephant it was already day light and very hot. We enjoyed being taken out in he national park on this magnificent animal, through high grass, across the river and swamps off any visible track. We saw deer, birds and crocodiles but to the kids disappointment no rhinos or bengal tigers. 1 hr on the back of an elephant is quite long time. Ingrid got motion sick and Scotty got bored after a while. It’s still worth doing while you are here though.
In Chitwan, we finally got the opportunity to use Scotts 1st ever knock knock joke…who’s there “Elephant in the jungle” as we saw elephants marching down the street in Sauraha, the little town at the edge of the National park. This National park is huge and the jungle is very real with Bengal tigers, Rhinos, crocodiles and much much more to discover, some more wild than others…..
Stuck in the mud
Getting there from Kathmandu was a bit of an adventure..and one I would do differently if I ever go there again. The travel agent at our hotel in Kathmandu sold us the idea that a private car from Kathmandu to Chitwan would be better for us and the children as it would be more comfortable, quicker and we would be able to stop if and when we wanted to.
With roads still damaged since last years earthquace and with recent landslides adding to the damage, saying that the roads were poor was a huge understatement. In this terrain, our small car did not handle the huge holes and bumps well and often got pushed aside by the endless amount of Indian trucks and big busses on their way to and from India. Also, there are only really a couple of places where you can stop along the way for refreshments and this is where all busses stop anyway, so the idea of frequent stops in a car was totally redundant.
The journey took 7 hrs, 5 of which were truly awful. The car got stuck in mud 3 times, with Paul and the driver having to get out to try to get the car moving again. At one point Scotts cuddly toy dog asked me (through Scott)if we were going to die or fall down the edge of the road into the river.It was time to lighten the mood and not show the kids how worried we were with the kids favourite music blasting out on Pauls phone for hours and then finally some sleep. Meanwhile, all I could think about was that in a few days we would have to go the same way back again…as we had already paid for the car to Chitwan and Pokhara in Kathmandu.
Tips for travel to Chitwan
For anyone going there I would definetly recommend taking the tourist bus as it feels safer and offers more comfort and space for everyone, especially the kids. When we left a few days later for Pokhara in the same little car, we left at 7 in the morning, missing most of the heavy traffic which made the journey somewhat more bearable.
When I asked the kids what they liked most during our time in Kathmandu they both said Momos and monkeys. The monkeys I expected, because nothing else has ever made Scott walk 12 km in 34 degree heat without complaining, and I think it will be some time before it happens again. The kids love of the Nepali dumpling dish called Momos and how they embraced all of the local food was more unexpected, but it certainly helped keep our energy levels high to fully enjoy our time in Nepal.
Our top 5 things to do with kids in Kathmandu:
Kathmandu in August is 30-35 degrees hot, humid, dusty, busy, noisy full of beeping cars, hustling people, temples and stray dogs. Its interesting and exhausting and at the same time. That is why we decided that 1 sight per day and 3 days of sightseeing was enough during our time in Kathmandu. Here is a summary of the things we, and especially the kids enjoyed the most in here.
The Monkey Temple
Swayambhu or the Monkey temple we it is called by tourists sits on top of a hill just on the edge of town. A huge golden stupa hosts lots of monkeys that also see when you climb the long staircase that takes you there. If you get here on foot like we did via the pilgrim walk from the Thamel area in Kathmandu you can avoid paying an entrance fee by simply taking the slightly hidden stairs on the far right. Once at the top we enjoyed the views, spinning the prayer wheels, looking around the sacred temple and getting mesmerised by all the monkeys.
Garden of Dreams – a welcome sanctuary from the noise & dust in Kathmandu
One of our favourite places during our time in Kathmandu was the Garden of Dreams. It’s a bit pricy o get in, 60N$, but it’s a nice space for some quality chilling out. This walled garden is like an oasis of peace and quiet in the otherwise overwhelming city of Kathmandu. Ingrid and Scott enjoyed having the freedom to run around the many ponds here as the streets in Kathmandu were to busy and dangerous for them to do so. There is a restaurant/cafe inside but it’s very pricy so its a good idea to bring snacks and drinks with you.
Astrek climbing wall, Kathmandu
We had looked up the local climbing wall up on google and were really looking forward to doing a bit of climbing. It was quite hard to find at first and the otherwise helpful locals and hotel staff had no idea where it was. After a bit of wondering, we finally found the well hidden Astrek Climbing wall. A little courtyard with 2 bouldering walls, a 14m top/lead wall and a little cafe. A few hours of sweating here gave us all an energy boost and lifted our spirits the way climbing always does.
You pay 250$ to climb during the week 450$ on a Saturday . If you want a belay you simply pay 100$ for 5 climbs.
Momos and other Nepali food that our kids loved
One of my worries before setting off on this trip was how the kids would get on with all the new types of foods and flavours. We quickly found that the kids were very adaptable and happy to try most of the things Paul and I ate. Momos was by far everyone’s favourite in Kathmandu. When you order Momos you get a plate of 10 steamed or fried vegetable or chicken dumplings. We all preferred the fried chicken ones that tasted just like most fried dumplings do. Other great food that we all enjoyed were chips/french fries , chicken soup, fried chicken and Nepali set dish called Thali.(see image) A Thali is also really good to share as someone will always come and offer to refill all the little bowls with curry, chicken, soup etc. At breakfast we all enjoyed pancakes and eggs in every shape a form as well as excellent coffee. The golden rule we quickly established is not to order western food as it rarely will live up to your expectations and to eat where and what the locals eat.
Monks by Boudhanath temple in Kathmandu
This famous Boudhanath stupa was a 30 min crazy taxi ride from our hotel. The courtyard surrounding it is rammed with little stalls and restaurants, but don’t let these distract you too much. Our favourite part was walking up to the Monastery from the back-end of the courtyard to meet to the young Monks that live there. You can also get a blessing & a golden scarf by a Monk at the top of one of the temples in return for a little deposit of 100N$!
Qatar air from Sweden to Nepal via Doha was quite good and kids were very excited about the over night flight but managed to sleep at least some of the way to Doha. They loved watching the latest kids movies and they got an activity bag each which helped keep them busy for a while.
Leaving the airplane in Doha was like stepping out from a fridge and into a hot oven. 36 at 01 o’clock in themorning. The cold air inside the plane looked like smoke as it crashed into the hot air rushing in from outside.This was our first walk in the clouds in Nepal..2nd time would be in the Annapurna mountains.
One interesting thing we noticed as we boarded and left the airplane in Kathmandu was that `being polite and waiting for your turn meant never actually getting anywhere. Here its all sharp elbows to get ahead.
The same was true when we got out of the airport and into the car to get to the hotel. The pre arranged hotel driver, quickly told us there are no traffic lights or road signs in Nepal, you push ahead and simply beep to let people know you are coming. I was glad I was not the one driving. Its a good idea to arrange a pick up from the hotel, as it takes a lot of stress away upon arrival when everyone is tired and grumpy. We simply email the hotel through our confirmation email received from Booking.com and that has worked well so far.
Looking out of the taxi window at the dusty road, crazy traffic, hoards of people feeling hot tired and sweaty suddenly a holy cow appears and that pretty much summarises my emotions at the time. Holy Cow!